Thursday 21 June 2012

Facebook - Terms (and Conditions) of Endearment

******* ****** has changed his relationship status
******* ****** is now single

We've all seen it.  Then watched with compulsive fascination to see any comments that are made, wondering what has happened but not quite knowing the protocol.  In the past, the days *BF, this would have never been an issue.  We would have bumped into an old friend on the street, swapped pleasantries, enquired "How's the missus?" only to receive the reply, "Oh, didn't you hear?" and would then get the full story from the (newly-single) horses mouth.   
Yet now, this is rarely the way things will pan out.  Our friendships through Facebook are totally different.  We become "friends" with people who would normally just remain acquaintances.  We're kept in constant contact with friends who we don't know too well *IRL.  We're all too aware, also, that there is no "tone" in our comment.  It's hard to convey actually sympathy when we can neither show a caring face nor rest a reassuring hand.
"So", you say, "send a private message." But it's not that simple.  I'm "friends" with enough teenagers to have seen, all too frequently, a status in the vein of "Why me?? *FML :'(" only to be followed by a litany of sad faces, interspersed with "*PM me now!". This makes me feel that sending a PM is like digging for dirt and, often assuming a close relationship that I may not have.
I don't think it's attention seeking to change your relationship status on Facebook without telling the whole story.  I can imagine you'd want people to know so they don't put their foot in it.  
Then you're also left with another dilemma.  If you're friends with a couple and they split up, who do you stay friends with?  I fell out with a friend once because she insisted that I unfriend her ex on Facebook and I refused.  Is it the same as taking sides?  Doesn't it become like splitting the record collection, where each chooses which Facebook friends to keep?  And if I do unfriend, do I still keep them tagged in my photos? 

******* ****** is now in a relationship with ******* *******

So it's not just in break-ups that I can commit a social media faux pas.  Commenting on a friend's new relationship is easy enough, but when they actually mention their new beau, we can't help but have a nosey to see who they are.  Are we allowed then to comment, passing critique? "Wow, he's a bit of alright! I definitely would!" or "Hon, you could do so much better!!"

Well, I think we can safely say that I'm never gonna know the right things to say.  And when I'm as a loss, I find that, as IRL, *hugs* generally do the job!

BF - Before Facebook
IRL - In Real Life
FML - Fuck My Life
PM - Private Message

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